Indonesia: Ministers tight-lipped over Sunday’s trade war meeting

In a coordination meeting on Sunday, several ministers discussed how to anticipate to the impact of the looming trade war between the United States and China, but were tight-lipped on Monday when asked to comment on the meeting’s results.

The meeting was unusual because it was held on a Sunday and involved ministers beyond those overseeing trade and economics.

Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution led the meeting, which also saw the attendance of Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Trade Minister Enggrastiasto Lukita, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno, while Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Padjaitan, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya and Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan also joined the meeting.

Enggartiasto said only that the ministers had discussed materials for the upcoming limited Cabinet meeting with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Monday.

Meanwhile, Retno said that Darmin was the only minister who was allowed to comment on the matter. “Please ask the coordinating minister [for the economy]. We have agreed,” she said.

However, Darmin declined to speak on any decisions made during the meeting. He also said the meeting discussed the issues the ministries faced in dealing with the trade war. “I won’t comment on this issue yet,” he stressed, when asked for further comments on the meeting’s results.

The US-China trade war heated up last week, when the US applied new tariffs on an estimated US$23 billion of imported products from China, which retaliated by enforcing tariffs on 545 imported US products the worth about $34 billion.

Reports also said that the US was evaluating 124 Indonesian products listed in its generalized system of preference (GSP). (bbn)